Complete Guide to the French Bulldog


The French Bulldog is a truly remarkable breed of dog. If you’d asked many dog lovers, only a decade ago, what they thought of this breed they would have probably struggled to tell you anything about it.

Fast forward until today and you are looking at one of the most popular dog breeds on the planet. Why is this though? What has made the French Bulldog so popular in recent years? Well, in truth there are many reasons.

So, for all of you wanting to know everything about the French Bulldog, I hope you enjoy this. The content is sourced from a combination of places but as often as possible, first-hand knowledge and talking to owners about their experiences, both good and bad.

So, here it is – the Complete Guide to the French Bulldog.

History of the French Bulldog

In the middle of the 19th Century and due to the onset of the Industrial Revolution (that began in the United Kingdom) many of the artisans (skilled workers) in England needed to try and find employment elsewhere.

This was due to all the factories being built at the time and a need for these skilled workers unfortunately diminishing.

For a lot of these people, they headed to France to find work and several of them took their little bulldogs with them.

These dogs were suited to their new environment, the French liked the way they disposed of the vermin and they also made a great companion dog. They became very well suited for each other.

The French breeders of the day didn’t keep as accurate records of the English at that time and weren’t so fussed about who the dogs mated with. So, several types of Terrier, Pugs, and Griffons contributed to the gene pool, possibly among others.

All this cross-breeding had to have an impact on not only the physical appearance but the demeanor and personality of the dog that we know today.

When the physical appearance became distinct from other breeds, a new breed-name was born – the Terrier-Boules and this breed would have been recognizable as the French Bulldog we know today.

As the population of this new French Bulldog breed increased in the late 19th century, many of the breeding clubs began to become interested. Finally, in 1888 the Club du Bouledogue Français was founded and shortly after this, the French Bulldog was formally recognized.

Physical Properties of the French Bulldog

Size and Weight

The French Bulldog is indeed classed as a small dog breed, but how small are we talking and how big can they get? As far as their height is concerned they will reach about a foot in height, give or take a few inches either way.

A good rule of thumb here is to look at their parents and if they are both small then there’s a good chance that’s how yours will turn out! 

Regarding weight, this can vary dramatically but at maturity (which is around two years) they will have reached anything from 15 lbs to 28 lbs.

This is a broad range, considering their size and can depend on a number of things. However, their eventual size has mostly already been set at the time of birth.

One of the main reasons why your French Bulldog may end up on the lighter side could be down to those first few days and weeks when it should be getting all the attention and nutrients from its mother.

A good breeder will be monitoring them at this age and will take over the process if they feel they are being left out.

This is more common than you might think actually and is due to the mother not developing the typical motherly feelings that you find after giving birth naturally. The vast majority of Frenchie’s are delivered by C-Section. 

You can see from the below chart how the French Bulldog’s weight increases over time and although her maximum weight will be at around two years, you won’t see a lot of change after about 30 weeks or so.

Complete Guide to the French Bulldog

So, how does this size compare with us? Take a look at the below approximation as it might help you understand how small this breed actually is!

Complete Guide to the French Bulldog

French Bulldog Colors

There are several colors that the French Bulldog can be found in and more combinations are available than many other breeds. Some are ‘approved’ by official Kennel Clubs and some aren’t. In fact, according to the UK-based Kennel Club the only approved colors are Brindle, Fawn and the Pied sub-set. All other colors are deemed ‘highly-undesirable’.

However, when we look at the American Kennel ClubOpens in a new tab. (AKC), the registered colors are Fallow, Fawn, Fawn & Brindle, Fawn & White, Fawn Brindle & White, Red, Red & White, Red Brindle, Red Brindle & White and finally White (by itself).

You will hear the colors ‘Brindle’, ‘Fawn’ and also some colors in relation to the word ‘Pied’ quite often. If you’re not sure what these terms and colors actually are, this might help:

Brindle â€“ Probably the most common color, you’ll most likely see ‘Brindle’ French Bulldogs more than any other. Brindle French Bulldogs have a dark-colored coat mixed with some lighter color strands of hair.

Fawn â€“ This is a light, yellowish-tan color that can come in several different shades. The coat color will be uniform but the head area will usually be a bit darker than the rest of the body.

Pied â€“ A French Bulldog with a pied coat means it is mostly white with more obvious patches of brindle or fawn. 

There are some colors associated with the French Bulldog that are linked to known genetic health problems. The blue color is particularly disliked by the official bodies but there are many who reject this information.

It should be noted, in fact, that the health problems that have been associated with this color (for instance, Blue Dog Alopecia) have also been found in other colors.

Another side-effect of some colors being deemed ‘undesirable’ is that they are more difficult to find over the more common bridle (for instance).

This seems to have a rather unusual effect from what you might think would happen. An ‘undesirable’ dog (according to the Kennel Clubs) ends up being more costly than the ‘desirable’ colors. 

Complete Guide to the French Bulldog

Comparison Against Other Breeds

If we compare the French Bulldog against other similar breeds, we can see that they are not an unusual size and although there are of course many dog breeds that are bigger, there are also several that are smaller. 

If you compare the French Bulldog to the Toy Poodle, for instance, there’s a big difference. The Poodle will reach a maximum of 10 inches in height (that is close to the Frenchie) but its weight will only reach between 6 to 8 lbs, which is significantly less than the stocky French Bulldog.

At the other end of the scale, you have something like the Great Dane. These mammoth beasts can reach around 30 inches in height but the major difference is in its mass. The Dane can weigh up to about 120 lbs, making it 9 or 10 times heavier than the little French Bulldog!

How Popular Is the French Bulldog?

The French Bulldog has become, in recent times, one of the most popular dog breeds on the planet. 

According to the UK’s Kennel Club, the French Bulldog was the second most popular dog breed in 2017Opens in a new tab. (most recent data). The only dog that is above it is the Labrador Retriever but considering the growth of the Frenchie’s popularity in recent times, I strongly believe that the French Bulldog will be the most popular dog breed in the UK by 2019.

The American Kennel Club’s data also shows phenomenal growth in recent years. According to their most recent data which includes up to 2017, the French Bulldog is the fourth most popular dog in the United States currently but again, the growth suggests it will be higher than that in the next year or so.

Over in Australia, the picture is the same. According to the Australian National Kennel Council, the French Bulldog was the third most popular dog breed.

But what can we take from all this information? There’s obviously a reason why globally this breed has become so popular in recent times, but why is that? Well, I think you’re about to find out and it leads us nicely to the next section regarding the temperament of the French Bulldog.

French Bulldog Temperament

As I just mentioned, the underlying reason why the French Bulldog has become so popular isn’t just because of its size. It’s primarily because of its personality.

General Notes and Comparisons

The French Bulldog makes an exceptional companion dog. It is also a dog that many families are considering as their first choice when looking for a first family pet. There are many reasons why this is an attractive proposition to them, but primarily (and more on these points later):

  • It is usually very good with children.
  • It is usually very good with other animals.
  • It doesn’t require much exercise.
  • It is playful, inquisitive and likes to get up to mischief.
  • It is more often than not, a lap-dog.
  • It is not an aggressive dog breed.

There are many other reasons apart from this but if you can tick these points off when looking for a dog, then why look any further? Of course, there are other considerations and some negative points that need to be understood and addressed but it is generally felt (and the global popularity of the breed demonstrates this) that the positives far outweigh the negatives.

The French Bulldog will want to spend every second of every hour of every day in your company. It is almost as if they live their lives totally to please us poor little under-loved humans 🙂 When you go to the bathroom, expect them to go with you.

When you go to the kitchen, expect them to want to watch what you’re cooking. When you curl up on the sofa to watch a film in the evening, then expect them to curl up with you. This makes them a very attractive breed for those people who are alone and want companionship.

So, they make an ideal dog those someone who’s alone and wants company, someone who can’t get out much (as they don’t require that much exercise) and for a family with children.

I think it is for these reasons why they have become so popular. The French Bulldog is a breed that caters for so many types of situations and people, rather than some breeds that have a very specific role to play.

Is the French Bulldog Good with Kids?

Complete Guide to the French Bulldog

The French Bulldog is typically a very good dog around children. It is naturally not aggressive and will see the child as just someone else to play with. However, there are two key things that can really help to ensure you won’t run into any unfortunate situations involving the dog and the children.

  1. Early socialization. The French Bulldog should be socialized at a very early age. They should be introduced to as many other people (of all ages) and as many other pets (of all types) at a young age. Failure to do this has more of an impact with other breeds but can certainly impact the French Bulldog as well. Performing this one step may well guarantee the perfect family dog.
  2. Education of children. Of course, it’s not a one-way street. Yes, the dog needs to understand its place in the family but also, children need to know how to treat animals. Young children (and some adults) need to appreciate they are not dolls and can’t be dressed up, prodded and poked. Children of all ages need to understand that although they are this cute little bundle of fur, they are also an animal. If that animal feels threatened or scared it may revert back to instinct and lash out. No children should ever put their face close to the face of a dog, no matter how much they love each other 🙂

I can’t think of another dog breed that is so well suited for a family environment more than the French Bulldog. 

Is the French Bulldog Good with Other Animals?

Complete Guide to the French Bulldog

Yes, the French Bulldog is typically very good with other animals. The same rule, relating to children and socialization applies for this also of course.  If you’re thinking of getting a dog-friend for your French Bulldog, then this can work also.

Remember though that dogs, like us, are individuals and just because the majority of French Bulldogs get on fabulously with everyone, doesn’t mean yours will. It probably will – but there are no guarantees with animals!

There’s a certain skill involved when introducing two dogs together. You can’t just stick them together and expect them to be best friends straight away!

These rules also apply to your French Bulldog. You should first take them both somewhere that is neutral to them and keep them on their leads. Allow them to sniff each other and just observe for a bit.

If they look like they’re getting anxious then ensure they are separated and end the session for the day.

You’ll need to do this a few times before letting them both off the lead and finally allowing them both in the same house together.

This obviously isn’t a detailed guide as to how to introduce two dogs but you get the picture, it’ll take a bit of time.

Summary of French Bulldog Profile

Body Size (More stars means larger)
Temperament (More stars means a better temperament)
Companion Dog (More stars means a better companion dog)
Breed Health (More stars means generally better health)
Aggressiveness (More stars means less aggressive)
Trainability (More stars means easier to train)
Life Expectancy (More stars the longer the average lifespan)
Cost of Purchase (Less stars is more expensive)

Exercise Requirements

The French Bulldog does not require much exercise. In fact, I could probably be pushed as far as saying that she requires no formal exercise at all. That might not be the most sensible thing to suggest but there are reasons for this.

Firstly, the Frenchie is such a small dog, as long as you don’t go crazy when feeding her, the weight is quite easy to manage. Also, they tend to get enough exercise inside the house playing so it’s generally not required. 

There is a third reason though – a reason related to some health problems that are typical of a brachycephalic dog breed. I’ll be going through the health problems related to the French Bulldog further down but due to their inability in regulating their temperature, you need to be very careful they don’t overheat.

This is far easier to manage if inside or close to your property of course.

The Frenchie will take any opportunity it has to play with you. It won’t only be your French Bulldog not putting on weight but you too!

It will carry on playing until you can play no more – try and find as much time as you can to spend with her doing just this.

Not only is it a great work-out (for both of you) but it’s a way you will develop your bond with her.

Can the French Bulldog be Trained?

Yes, the French Bulldog can be trained. A bit of advice though, invest in some formal training and get it done whilst they are still young. You’ll thank me for it later 🙂 Yes, there’s a cost associated with it but it’s really just a one-off and comes with so many benefits it’s totally worth it.

The French Bulldog is not a cheap animal and if you’re going to spend a lot of money buying her it would be a shame not to do the job totally right. It’s like buying an expensive Ferrari and putting the cheapest tires you can find on it, just doesn’t make sense. 

Many believe that training a French Bulldog can help prevent her from being susceptible to anxiety disorders later in life. Well, that may or may not be true but what I do know is that training a dog at an early age helps the dog develop into a more rounded dog.

A dog that will obey your commands when required, will be less likely to be possessive about toys and possessions and less aggressive. 

French Bulldog Health

We’ve concentrated mostly up to now on the several positives relating to the French Bulldog. It is perhaps unfair to use health as a negative but it’s certainly something to consider when looking at this breed for a future pet.

Life Expectancy of the French Bulldog

The average life expectancy of a French Bulldog is between 11 and 14 years but it does seem to depend on who you ask. A UK breeding club suggests a lifespan of 12 to 14 and a US breeding club (the AKC) suggests 11 to 13 years

. So, somewhere in there you will find your answer, quite a lot of variability. You would think that a dog bought through a breeder where its parents were healthy would have a higher chance of a longer life than a dog bought from a rescue home where the history wasn’t known.

This may well be the case but I certainly couldn’t find data to back my reasoning up!

Anyway, there’s no point worrying about it, is there? What it comes down to is mostly is Lady Luck. You may get a puppy from a rescue center where you have no idea how healthy its parents are and it lives a ripe old age of 16! The point here is you can stack the cards in your favor as much as you can but at the end of the day, you need a bit of luck. 

So, what kind of things can you do to give your French Bulldog the best chance of having a long life?

  • Buy your French Bulldog puppy from a trusted, reputable breeder where you can establish the health of the parents and have DNA tests performed so you know there are no genetic health problems present.
  • Ensure your French Bulldog is vaccinated. This will usually be performed by the breeder but make sure you have all the proof and find out when you need to have the boosters from your vet.
  • Provide a healthy diet for her. It’s obvious I know but keep the treats to just that, occasional treats for good behavior. 
  • Ensure the dog is neutered. This can prevent some forms of cancer and all but eliminate bad behavior in some dogs.
  • Ensure you have regular vet check-ups. This is an opportunity for your vet can top-up vaccinations and also check on your Frenchie’s vitals.
  • Dog Insurance. This point gets its own section later but it is really recommended. The costs of problems can really mount up quickly with this breed and you don’t want to be in the position where you can’t afford a critical operation. It’s expensive but you’ll be pleased you took it up at some point during her life.

French Bulldog Health Concerns

Unfortunately, due to the amount of cross-breeding (and inbreeding), there is a problem with genetic health problems and the French Bulldog. Here is a list of known issues to look out for (in alphabetical order):

  • Allergies – genetics can increase the risk of your French Bulldog getting this. There are several types of allergy, such as food and environmental.
  • Brachycephalic related problems – all dogs that have these type of flat faces will suffer from these problems and covers a variety of problems that can cause breathing problems.
  • Cherry Eye – related to the third eyelid that can come out of position. It’s possible to massage it back into position or it may require surgery.
  • Cleft Palate – believed to be genetic, related to a problem with the opening in the roof of the mouth.
  • Deafness – thought to be genetic and more common with white coated dogs.
  • Degenerative Myelopathy – usually seen in older dogs, this is a serious problem that can affect the spine.
  • Distichiasis – a genetic problem related to the eyelid and how it grows.
  • Entropion – another hereditary problem related to the eyelid.
  • Heat Exhaustion – the French Bulldog is not able to regulate its temperature, this can cause serious problems if not addressed quickly.
  • Hemivertebrae – related to a deformity of the spine and is present at birth.
  • Hip Dysplasia – problems related to the hip which can be serious and require surgery.
  • Patellar Luxation – a painful condition when the kneecap is dislocated or out of its normal position.
  • Soft Palate – caused when tissue can cause problems with the flow of air through the windpipe.
  • Stenotic Nares – an issue relating to the narrowing of the nostrils.
  • Tracheal Collapse – a respiratory disease related to the windpipe.
  • Von Willebrand’s Disease – a bleeding disorder, similar to Hemophilia.

The above isn’t an exhaustive list but I’m certainly exhausted listing them all! I’d not blame you at all from looking at the above and being put off. However, this really should not be the case.

There are some simple things you can do to prevent your French Bulldog from developing these problems and other things you can do to help if they get them. Just because they get one (or many) of these conditions, it’s not the end of the world. So, how can you prevent these from happening to your little Frenchie?

It’s quite simple really as you can only do so much. Firstly, you can ensure that you give yourself the best chance by buying through a breeder and ensuring its DNA checks out and its parents are healthy.

Secondly, you can get insurance so you can afford to pay for the medical assistance you may require if (or when) any of these problems occur.

Separation Anxiety

This is an important point. The French Bulldog does not like being left alone. There are many dog breeds that are more comfortable with spending time on their own than this one.

If you don’t think you’re going to be able to spend a substantial part of every day for the next decade with your dog, then you should really look for something other than the French Bulldog!

The Frenchie wants (and needs) to be around you, a lot. If you leave her for more than an hour or two, even at this point she will start developing separation anxiety.

This will manifest as destructive behavior. What this means is that you will come back to a property that may be different from the property you left earlier in the day.

The French Bulldog, becoming anxious, may start to nibble at anything it can get its mouth around. This could be chair-legs, remote controls, shoes, socks, clothes, carpets, doors and quite literally anything else. Alongside this, they may go to the toilet inside also.

The solution to this is simple and you know what I’m going to say. Try not to leave them alone for long periods of time. If you know this might happen in the future then try and arrange someone to look after your Frenchie for you. The anxiety that your dog will experience during this time can affect its health in the future.

Neutering

If you are wondering whether you should neuter (or spay) your French Bulldog then the answer (unless you’re a breeder, in which case you probably won’t be reading this) is yes.

There are many positive reasons why you should neuter your Frenchie and practically no reasons why not. For instance, with the female – getting her spayed will reduce (actually, practically eliminating) the chances of some types of cancer later in her life. Similarly, in the male, certain types of cancer, including prostate cancer are dramatically reduced.

You will also most likely notice an improvement in their behavior. If they were prone to barking before then it is likely they won’t bark as much after. They’ll also be less likely to wander off although that’s not usually a problem with the French Bulldog anyway as they don’t tend to go out as much as other breeds.

In summary, the owner of a French Bulldog should speak to their vet about when their Frenchie should be neutered. Although I’ve performed a whole heap of research, it’s really not clear and I’m in no position to advise on medical/veterinary issues so please perform your own research and chat to your vet. Most seem to get the procedure performed between 6 and 12 months, however. 

A Note On Insurance

After spending a substantial amount of money on the dog in the first place, spending even more on insurance may not be your top priority. I can totally understand this as it’s not cheap.

There are a lot of variables of course, such as any pre-conditions, age and how much a deductible (known as an excess in the UK) you would pay. However, assuming a $700 deductible, you will be looking at the below:

  • 8 Weeks Old: ~$60 per month.
  • 4 Years Old: ~$80 per month.
  • 10 Years Old: ~$150 per month.

These are all estimates of course but you can see why some people take the risk and don’t get it, especially for older dogs. However, with vet bills that can easily get into the thousands, it is something that all owners of this breed really need to consider and arguably should factor into their monthly/yearly budget.

French Bulldog Diet

You decide what your little Frenchie consumes and with this comes responsibility. Sometimes it’s easy to take the easy option but try and think what’s best for your little doggy.

I’ve seen in a few sources the below information as to dietary content. Do take this with a pinch of salt (err not literally) – with anything that can impact the health of your Frenchie you should always check with your vet first.

For instance, a lot of people swear on just providing their dogs with raw food. Some vets think this is a great idea but an equal number seem to disagree. I’m obviously not a vet so what chance do I have?

Do your own research and see what your dog’s like of course. Anyway, back to what I found:

  • Carbohydrates â€“ To maintains a decent blood sugar level the diet of your dog should be low in carbs.
  • Fat â€“ Canola oil, chicken fat and flaxseed are an excellent source of fat. I’ve seen that the recommended amount is around 8% of your Frenchie’s diet that should contain fat.
  • Protein â€“ Lamb, fish, Chicken, etc. for example. Your Bully won’t mind what meat they have, most likely. For puppy’s, it is suggested that around 22% of their diet contains a protein and when they’re older, about 18% of that diet.

There are, of course, the usual foods that are bad for dogs, to name but a few:

  • Chocolate
  • Dairy Products
  • Fatty Meats
  • Onions
  • Salty Foods
  • Sweets (sugar-based products)

As to how much you should feed them? Well, that depends on how much you have her running around all day! Actually, there’s more to it than just that of course – how big she will become depends a lot on her parents.

French Bulldog Reproduction

The French Bulldog is typically unable to reproduce naturally. It seems odd that a breed of dog has been bred to such an extent that if it wasn’t for us then it most likely wouldn’t exist right now.

However, you can see why this is when you look at the numbers. Around 80% of French Bulldogs can’t mate naturally. This is due to the size of their hips primarily. So, artificial insemination is usually required to impregnate the female.

Then, we come to the delivery. The vast majority of times the French Bulldog is unable to deliver her litter naturally. This is primarily due to the large size of the Bulldog’s head and the small size of her birthing canal. As far as the breeder (or owner) is concerned there are implications to this, such as:

  • Increased veterinary costs
  • Increased risk to the mother (they will require a general anesthetic)
  • Increased chance the mother won’t bond with the litter as it did not deliver naturally.

However, when looking at these ‘increased risks’ we have to ask ourselves whether they should actually be considered as risks. I mean, it’s not as if there is any choice in the process, is there?

From the outset, we know this happens and we know that it’s one of the reasons behind the high prices of these puppies. So, we factor it in and manage it accordingly.

Cost of the French Bulldog

Now then, this is where things get a little spicy. Anyone who’s researched the French Bulldog even a little knows they are not a cheap dog breed to buy. But why is that and how much do they cost on average?

In summary, the reason why the French Bulldog is going to cost you a lot of money is:

  • They can not typically breed naturally so the breeder has to pay for artificial insemination costs.
  • There are no guarantees that this artificial insemination process will yield any results.
  • The French Bulldog will not usually give birth naturally and will require a C-Section with the costs that come with this.
  • The French Bulldog bitch can only go through a maximum of two C-sections in her life, so it’s not as if the breeder can use them multiple times for breeding.
  • Once born, the litter can require a lot of attention and time from the breeder.
  • The breeder will typically pay for the vaccinations (although this is common with all dogs of course).

So, how much will you be expected to pay? Well, that depends on who you buy one from. If you go to a respected breeder like the AKC then you will pay a premium but you do tend to get what you pay for.

When buying through a respected breeder, DNA tests will be performed and you will know the health of the parents. In summary, buying through a breeder should ensure your French Bulldog has fewer health problems in its life.

If we have a look at the below chart, we can see the average cost of French Bulldog puppies currently available from the AKC via the ‘Bred with H.E.A.R.T. breeders (these are the breeders with the best feedback and are the most well-regarded). The average price is $4,650! This is really on the upper side of the costs and you would not normally pay this amount.

Complete Guide to the French Bulldog

I also asked over 400 French Bulldog owners on social media how much they had paid for their puppy. This is the data from that survey:

Puppy Cost ($)% of Total
1300-195035
975-130023
1950-260022
2600-39006.5
650-9754
0-2503.5
3900-65003
250-6501.5
Over 65001

We can see from this that the average price paid was between $975 and $1,950. This is significantly lower than the AKC data and what it tells me is that a lot of people don’t buy through approved breeders but buy via other methods. This could be through a rescue center, from a friend or just from some group they’ve discovered on social media.

At the end of the day though, all I can suggest is that only you will know how much you can afford. Based on this information will dictate how you eventually buy your French Bulldog. Make sure though that whoever you buy one from, you do as much due diligence as possible.

Finally…

Well, this was a long article. Longer than expected but after I started I couldn’t stop. I love the French Bulldog. It may well be true that they shouldn’t actually exist but this is just another reason why I love them so much more.

If you haven’t got one and are thinking about it, I suggest you find someone who has one and spend an hour with them. That hour will seem like a minute and you won’t want to leave your newly-found best friend. Your life will change forever, for the better.

close

Oh hi there 👋
It’s nice to meet you.

Sign up to receive awesome content in your inbox, every month. You WILL NOT receive any spam!

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Jane

Hi. I'm Jane Pettitt and I co-own petsKB with my husband, Matt. I've always been crazy about animals and have shared my whole life with cats, We currently live with 4 gorgeous Maine Coons and have 25 years of experience with this breed. There's not much we can't tell you about them. We've also owned dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, fish, mice, and tortoises. All of our articles draw on the extensive pet knowledge base we've built up throughout our lives as pet lovers.

Recent Content